Regular chimney maintenance is one of the most important things you can do to prevent potential problems. You can do some of the maintenance and cleaning yourself, but don’t underestimate the importance of a professional inspection and cleaning at least once per year depending on how often your chimney is used. Today I’m going to cover the importance of chimney maintenance and how to avoid chimney problems in their infancy. Call me at any time to discuss your chimney maintenance needs – Lou Curley, CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep in Philadelphia 610-626-2439.

Why Clean the Chimney when it’s Just Going to Get Dirty Again?

A dirty chimney isn’t the issue here; a dangerous one is. Creosote buildup is extremely flammable and absolutely must be removed to prevent a chimney fire. Buildup that is thicker than 1/4 inch becomes very dangerous and puts your entire household at risk. Chimney fires often blaze out of control very quickly because often go unnoticed unless they start a surprise structural fire.

Why Hire a Chimney Sweep Instead of Just Using a Round Brush and Vacuum?

I just said a dirty chimney wasn’t the issue, but in reply to this particular question, it is. I’m not saying that you can’t clean the chimney on your own; I’m just not going to recommend that you try it. The tiles on the inside of the flue are not easily cracked, but if you do happen to hit one hard enough to crack it, you have to go from chimney cleaning to chimney repair. Are you prepared for that type of commitment?

Most household vacuum cleaners have a single or double filter system. That’s cute! I won’t promise that a regular household vacuum cleaner will sufficiently clean and contain the materials that fall out of your chimney during a cleaning. Make sure to have money set aside for a new vacuum cleaner. You may get by with using a Shop Vac style vacuum with a water filter. Again, I’m not going to promise you’ll achieve the desired results, but it could make for a good YouTube video.

Does a Newly Purchased Home Require a Chimney Inspection?

I often hear, “but I just purchased my home and the home inspector presented a very thorough home inspection checklist that included the chimney.” Unfortunately that is only half true. Home inspectors do an incredible job examining the areas to which they have full access. The American Society of Home Inspectors doesn’t require home inspectors to climb onto the roof to inspect the chimney cap, flashings, and interior of the flue. They do visually inspect the fireplace while they’re inside the home and the chimney during their examination of the exterior of the home. This does not generally provide any indication of previous chimney fires or damage within the flue.